Martha Friedman: Castoffs
Fri Jun 15, 2018 – Sun Feb 10, 2019
Henry Art Gallery
University of Washington
15th Avenue NE and NE 41st Street
Seattle, WA 98195
In the exhibition Castoffs, sculptor Martha Friedman (U.S., born 1975) presents a new group of figurative sculptures that engage in a process of making and unmaking the body, challenging imposed logics that attempt to neatly contain or define it.
Working with choreographer and dancer Silas Riener, Friedman created concrete casts from her collaborator’s idealized male form and then assembled the resulting distorted parts with metal armatures and spikes, as well as tubing and sheeting made of rubber. The result is a body dissected, a series of ambiguous parts that resist a totalizing, easily categorizable whole. Dispersed across a grid of pedestals, these hybrid sculptures are imbued with a tension between reverence for the virtuosic male body and a distrust of its idealized stature, a yearning to break with gendered hierarchies as well as to interrogate sculptural histories proceeding from Classical antiquity.
Across Friedman’s work is an interest in processes and materials that evoke the pleasures, anxieties, and vulnerabilities of having a body. Friedman’s playful and humorous early work of enlarged versions of commonplace items such as nails and waffles has in recent years evolved a sharper edge, both literally and metaphorically, engaging with the entangled relations between agency and constraint, embodiment and dissociation, violence and desire.